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Interview: ROY HAY (CULTURE CLUB)

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Eighties pop sensations Culture Club are on their way back to Australia at the end of the month, with another tour around the country. This time, their special guest will be Tom Bailey of the Thompson Twins with support acts local favourites, Eurogliders and Hoseah Partsch, who was on Boy George’s team on The Voice. Human League will join the line-up in Perth.

This will be the band’s third Australian tour in eighteen months and on the eve of the tour, I caught up with Culture Club guitarist and keyboard player, Roy Hay. When I mention the irony of the band not touring for so many years and now, three times in a row, Roy laughs. “Like my friend says, we’re like London buses. You don’t see one for a while and then you see three at once!”

It has been a very busy couple of years for the band, according to Roy. “We did around 80 shows around the world last year I think.”

He says that the band has quite a strong connection to Australia. “We always enjoy coming down there; we always have a good time and this year with George being on The Voice, it’s created even more interest so we’re back again!”

Talking about what audiences can expect from the shows on this tour, Roy says “We’re going to mix it up again. We’ll do the hits plus a few new songs from the Eighties era which we thought would work well for the band so that will be interesting to see as well. Greatest Hits in the Eighties, in a way.”

There will also be some new material thrown into the mix. When they toured here last year, Culture Club were on the verge of releasing a new album but that hasn’t happened yet. “We’re going to have a few new songs from that too so who knows? We may even come back again when that’s done. It’s been very interesting getting the new music together. I mean, it’s still quite as disjointed as it ever was really. The thing about Culture Club is we never really had ‘a style’ as such. We just wrote songs and if it came out as a reggae song, that’s how it came out. If it came out as some bluegrass or some R&B thing, that’s how it came out. The uniting factor was George’s voice and the way we perform as a band so it’s quite interesting. We’re like some bizarre pop show revue show now. I don’t know what we are anymore. I don’t think we have to have a label. We’re just Culture Club.”

Getting the band back together again after so many years was a bit of a revelation, according to Roy who now looks back on those halcyon days with a whole new perspective. “It’s very interesting revisiting something that you thought was just the way the world is,” he admits. “You think the world owes you this when you were younger and now you realise it doesn’t, so you just become kind of more grateful and you have more humility towards it, like you’re really lucky to be doing this.  It’s really nice to be able to get out there and perform and play music and take people back to a part of their lives when they enjoyed life. It’s a gift really. We used to think it was a right. Now we don’t; we think it’s a gift. That’s what it is to me. Like everything else in life, you look at things differently, don’t you, as one matures.”

What prompted the decision to get the band back together?

“I think it was sort of a realisation that we actually had something special that we’ve created together and that it was silly to let it lie there dormant when it was something that we worked so hard to put together and it was a nice thing to have in our lives. I mean, the thing is now, it’s not the be all and end all of everything. It’s not so important. It’s just a nice thing to have in your life to play music and go and travel around the world and meet people and like I said, it’s a gift to be able to play music. It’s very nice.”

He recalls the moment that things really changed. “The big moment for me was when ‘Do You Really Want To Hurt Me?’ went to No. 1 in the U.K. and it was just a sort of life changing moment really. I don’t think we realised what it really meant but we knew it meant something pretty decent. From that moment on, everywhere we went was just madness. You tend to forget, we were like One Direction. We got mobbed. I’ll never forget the scene at Sydney airport when we arrived there in 1983 I think it was and there was like 10,000 screaming teenagers at the airport waiting for us. The same in Canada. It was kind of a mad experience to have in your life. You look back and think ‘Wow! Did that really happen?’ I feel like I’ve had many lives and that was a particularly fun one.”

With a set list that includes so many hits and other great songs, I ask if there is one in particular that he enjoys playing ‘live’? “I think maybe ‘Miss Me Blind’ is my personal favourite,” he replies. “I get to rock out a bit in the middle. There’s a little guitar solo and I get to stick George at the back of the stage for a moment,” he laughs.

Culture Club kick off their Australian tour in Melbourne on November 30. Check here for full tour info and booking details.

 

by Sharyn Hamey

 

Copyright © Sharyn Hamey 2017.  All rights reserved

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